Friday, May 21, 2010

SF Zine Fest! Sign up now!

For all those print artists, card makers, crafters, DIY-ers, and other people who do cool stuff, you should definitely mark your calendar for the San Francisco Zine Fest! With our brand new postcard design from Jesse Reklaw, one of our featured special guests, we're one month to go to the deadline for early registration. Save your money now and get on board!

As chief registrar for the Zine Fest, Monkey can safely say that we're already half-full, with applications coming in daily, so make sure you get on it! Considering the price tag and the fact that it's not juried (although we'll tell you no if you're selling something non-DIY or really sketchy), it's really a low(er) cost opportunity to get your feet wet in the craft/art/zine fair scene and plus you get to meet tons of really cool people! Meet your audience face to face! Get out there and show us your stuff!

Overall, Monkey + Seal always have an amazing time at the Fest. Once again, we'll be live painting at the Festival, so even if you're not planning on exhibiting, definitely make sure to come check it out!

Register now!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Valuing our work

As creatives, Monkey + Seal have found that society as a whole tends to think that for whatever reason, our services are negotiable. Monkey + Seal are guilty of dropping their rates since we were "students" and not really valuing our own work. However, no other industry would ever allow this to happen.

When Monkey attended a professional designer's society's mixer, he heard a speaker who talked about this. The speaker said, "you would never walk into an automotive shop and say 'Well, can you fix my car first, and then maybe I'll pay you for the work?' You would never go 'Hmm, can I have my dinner to go, and if I like it, I'll stop by next month and pay your for it?' to a restaurant."

However, this is what we often do, because we're afraid of not getting work, never being "discovered," or of losing a bid. We work on spec, enter into contests and give away our rights, and when you compare our business to that of any other profession, it's just plain ridiculous. The public doesn't hire creatives as often (how often have you personally hired an illustrator versus hiring a doctor or a eaten out?) so it's difficult to change the way the public thinks about creatives and their work. Thus, it's up to us to stick up for ourselves and make sure we aren't under-valuing ourselves.

Now we cannot judge anyone, as we completely understand the need to make some cash. Everyone's personal circumstances are different, but we think that low-balling your work hurts the industry as a whole. If you're a student, it's a little more acceptable (you can get dental work done by students at lower prices), but once you've graduated, it hurts all creatives.

If you are a graphic designer or an illustrator, realize that there IS such a thing as an "industry standard." Check out the Graphic Arts Guild's Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines. It's definitely helped us set our pricing for freelance work, and we do our best to stick by it. The best part is that is has concrete examples (and is pretty specific) for a lot of general jobs, such as a quarter-page illustration for a local newspaper versus a nationally-distributed paper.

The more work that is done on spec or is given away in hopes of getting money back is going to lower the industry standard as a whole. Although it doesn't affect emerging artists now, when/if they ever do become established, they'll find that it is harder and harder to find clients willing to pay full price. As creatives you have to realize that you have the ability to do something that most people cannot.

As a visual artist (or any other creative) you are responsible for expressing ideas in a way that others cannot. If a client ever asks you why you charge so much, ask them why they aren't doing the job themselves. If designing a complete branding identity was so easy, then why doesn't your client do it themselves? Ask them to try, and when they realize how difficult it is, then they can come back and hire you.

Monkey + Seal often have to fight the constant battle of making sure our prices are fair and affordable but also that they don't sell our work short. We have heard a lot of other artists deal with this as well. If you do, how do you cope with this?

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Empire Building Kit

So if you're not familiar with the work of Chris Guillebeau, he's sort of a badass of the non-traditional entrepreneurial circle. He is a writer and his goal is to travel to every country IN THE WORLD by the time he's 35. Crazy. However crazy he might be, he is on track to do it, and he shares his travel hacking tips, advice on starting up your own business, and how to set off on your own and make money doing something you love.

I randomly found out about him after clicking a link on twitter, and I was sold. After purchasing his guide to Art + Money, we were convinced he was the real deal. Now don't get me wrong - the dude gives you a lot of awesome advice, but it's not a get-rich-quick scheme. It's more like "here are the tools to go change the world, now it's up to you to start doing the heavy lifting (albeit in bite-sized quantities).

He sells Unconventional Guides with topics like travel hacking and making money off your art that, from what we've read (and we own three of the guides), pretty awesome advice. They run $35 and up, from when I last checked, but they're worth it.

He just recently released his Empire Building Kit, which we invested in, and has thus far been well worth the $149 (the lowest of three tiers) that we paid. It has helped us re-evaluate business strategy, and helped spur us onto creating the free 7 Ways to Make Ordering Wedding Invitations Easier (and Cheaper). Anyway, we are so all about this that we wanted to let you know that Chris will be selling his Empire Building Kit again for another limited 24 hour period. If you want it, you'll have to visit between 9am (PST) tomorrow (Tuesday May 18th) and 9am Wednesday.

Really, for $149, reading all the interviews with small business owners who are actually making it doing what they love (a lifestyle business, if you will) was well worth it, and the case studies are icing on the cake. The case studies, which you get more of, aren't as in depth as I might want, but the interviews definitely make up for it.

Finally, you also get an email a day for 365 days helping urge you along your path to carving out your own empire in the world. Although 1/7 are recap emails (which I honestly don't find really that helpful), that's still a good 312 emails of motivational stuff, suggestions on small actions you can take, and other cool things that make it easier to keep on working towards the dream.

So Monkey + Seal are affiliates of the Unconventional Guides (meaning we do get a cut if you buy something), but like we said if you've ever checked out our affiliate policy before: we don't endorse crap that we don't use ourselves. I can't guarantee that you'll find the Empire Building Kit (or any of the other guides) useful, but Chris does come with a 100% money back guarantee - assuming you actually try his suggestions for a month and if you are still unhappy with the results, he'll give you your money back no questions asked. Not bad, eh? Additionally, Chris offers two free guides (his manifestos) which also offer loads of wonderful information, so even if you don't go to buy, at least check out the free stuff!

Go here to sign up for building your own empire! Huzzah!